Tolly' Good Fellas!

Unlike Bollywood stars, Telugu film actors reserve their ‘naach-gaana’, ‘Jhatkas and matkas’ strictly for the reels. They stay away from performing at weddings or other private events — even if offered crores of rupees.

It was this attitude that saved some of the Tollywood stars from appearing on the radar of the Enforcement Directorate, which is currently probing 14 Bollywood celebs for performing at the marriage of Mahadev app promoter Sourabh Chandrakar.

It turns out that besides Bollywood stars, Chandrakar and his team had reached out to a few Tollywood A-listers and offered them huge sums of money to dance at his extravagant wedding in Ras Al-Khaima in Dubai. But the Tollywood celebs stayed away.

The mega wedding, for which Chandrakar spent a whopping Rs. 200 crore in cash, brought him and his partner Ravi Uppal under the ED’s microscope, and opened a can of worms for the Bollywood stars.

Multiple sources confirmed to this correspondent that calls were made to some top Tollywood actors months before the mega wedding took place in February this year. It was around the same time that Bollywood celebs were being roped in, one by one. “Sourabh Chandrakar’s craze for films and film stars is well known. In fact, some of the Bollywood celebs helped him and his team get in touch with the Tollywood stars by passing on their numbers,” sources said. After Bollywood celebs had confirmed their participation, Chandrakar’s team waited for several days for confirmation from Tollywood. But it did not come. “While reservations were being made at Bhurj Khalifa (where the Bollywood stars were put up), last minute calls were made to Tollywood actors, but to no avail,” said the source. It is learnt that calls were made to at least three actors but they refused point-blank. Had they confirmed, the plan was to rope in more actors. Sourabh wanted the event as grand as possible and was therefore looking at inviting many more stars,” sources said.
At least five more Bollywood stars refused to perform at Sourabh’s event, citing work commitments. “But others gave in to the lure of huge amounts of money, running into several crores of rupees.”

“Besides, they were given super expensive gifts and of course, the stay (at Bhurj Khalifa) was obviously top notch.”

It’s a personal choice

When it comes to performing at weddings and private events, Bollywood actors leave no chance. In fact, they take pride in it. In Tollywood, it’s exactly the opposite. They do make an exception only if the event happens to be that of their family members, relatives or very close friends. That too, for fun and not monetary gains.

Actor Harshavardhan Rane, who works both in Bollywood and Tollywood film industries, is direct in his response. “I would dance in a wedding as I need to secure my future. I don’t have a godfather,” he says.

The actor says he is at a stage where he can happily work for money. “Don’t know about others but I feel unapologetic about the whole affair,” says Rane.

Tollywood actor Nandu has an interesting take on this. “If it is only for entertainment and not hurting anyone’s sentiments, and if it is not illegal, I don’t think there is anything wrong if Bollywood stars perform at private parties,” he says.

About Tollywood stars not keen to perform at private events, he says it’s a personal choice. “I am not comfortable performing in front of 100 people or live audience but I am fine performing in front of the camera. We don’t have the culture to perform live at events, so we don’t,” says the actor, known for his roles in Ram Gopal Varma’s 365 Days and Sawaari.

Another actor Srinivas Avasarala, who is also a film director and screenwriter feels that traditionally, South Indian weddings don’t have dance performances. “That could be the reason why Tollywood actors do not like to associate themselves with private events,” feels Srinivas, recipient of two Nandi awards.

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